Facebook jumps on real-time bandwagon

The race to real-time search is on.
Facebook has started sending out invitations to selected users to beta test a trimmer version of the page it terms Facebook Lite, according to online reports.
The new version allows users of the social networking site to perform real-time searches on status updates belonging to other Facebook users, positioning itself head to head against Twitter.
Facebook Lite's announcement follows news of Facebook's acquisition of social aggregator, FriendFeed.
The FriendFeed acquisition is expected to give Facebook broader reach to index more user-generated content online. FriendFeed aggregates social activity such as blog posts and Twitter feeds.
Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with Forrester Research, was quoted in an FT.com article saying Facebook's reaching out to public sites outside its network will help it compete with search giant, Google.
"Facebook needs to be more of a public site to stay relevant when it comes to Google and Twitter. The more content that is available publicly, the better off Facebook is," he said.
Earlier this week, Google too announced an experimental new search architecture, codenamed Caffeine, in an effort to get searches faster. Google said it intended to boost the search engine's index size, indexing speed and accuracy.
Competing search engines, Yahoo and Bing, are eyeing the real-time search game as well.
Even though Yahoo plans to outsource its search function to Microsoft, Yahoo Labs' head, Prabhakar Raghavan was quoted in a Reuters report saying the company intends to develop real-time search capabilities.
He said the company could "mine" Twitter messages, allowing users to take a glimpse into the real-time chatter happening on the microblogging site.
Microsoft's Bing search engine has a function that its engineers can use to prioritize news of a particular event, should a breaking news story occur. This allows links to news events to take precedence over the typical search results.
Besides the activity from these Internet giants, there is a rumble of activity coming from startups eyeing the real-time opportunity.
According to angel investor Ron Conway, real-time search presents some US$5 billion to be made from retailers and marketers looking to tap new advertising and e-commerce avenues online.